Sarah Wilson's PR Blog

November 11, 2009

Informational Interview with St. Joseph’s/Candler Special Event Coordinator

Filed under: PRCA 3339 — swilso37 @ 4:14 pm

On Monday, November 2, I had the pleasure of interviewing Menzanna Blakley, the special events coordinator for St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital of Savannah, GA. During our interview I asked a series of questions about her opinion on public relations and how to prepare for entering the public relations industry. Mrs. Blakley has a great insight about the field because she has held her position at St. Joseph’s/Candler for over 20 years. The series of questions that I asked Mrs. Blakley were:

  • How did you decide to work in this field?
  • What is a typical workday like?
  • Tell me about a project you worked on that you are especially proud of.
  • How important is writing in your career?
  • How does technology affect your daily work?
  • Did your education prepare you for working in public relations? If so, how?
  • What do you do to keep current in the PR Industry?
  • How has PR changed since you entered the industry?
  • What do you wish you would have known before starting your career in PR?
  • What three tips would you offer someone just starting out in PR?

During my interview with Mrs. Blakley, I learned a great deal about the field and what to expect. She informed me that she wasn’t even prepared for the job she has today. Her major in college was criminal justice, which has no relevance to PR. She has worked for St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital for over 20 years, and was promoted to different areas of the company along the way. She finally ended up in the Marketing & PR department of the hospital. “There is no typical work day for my position” according the Mrs. Blakley. An example that Mrs. Blakley gave me of this was how one week she worked all seven days, because there was an event for the hospital that weekend. On the day of the event, Mrs. Blakley worked a solid 21 hours!

When I asked Mrs. Blakley to tell me about a particular project that she is proud of, she told me of an event that St. Joseph’s/Candler partnered up with the Savannah Morning News in the recent Paint the Town Pink campaign. The campaign was to raise awareness of the importance of getting mammograms. She also told me about how St. Joseph’s/Candler joined forces with the Hunter Army Airfield this year for an event that was recently held on Friday, October 23. That day, they had over 500 soldiers run from the Hunter Army Airfield to St. Joseph’s/Candler’s Nancy Lewis Cancer Center located on the Candler campus to support the Paint the Town in Pink campaign. Mrs. Blakley said that it was “truly heartwarming.”  

You are able to see a clip of this at http://savannahnow.com/latest-news/2009-10-23/video-soldiers-run-breast-cancer-awareness-month-savannah.

After hearing about the Paint the Town in Pink campaign, I asked Mrs. Blakley about the importance of writing in her career. She quickly informed me that there are several people in the PR department of the hospital that are solely dedicated to writing. “Luckily, I am not one of those people!”

The role of technology is not large right now for her particular position right now; however, Mrs. Blakley knows that social networking is extremely important to most companies these days, and she knows that the PR team will soon be implementing those tools; which goes on to the question on how PR has changed since she entered the field, Mrs. Blakley believes that social media/networking has turned the marketing and PR business upside down. She said PR used to be spread primarily by word of mouth. Now, one blog or tweet can spread the word to the world.

To keep current in the PR field, Mrs. Blakley uses trade publications and websites for help. She told me that they give her another perspective into the industry.

I asked Mrs. Blakley if she could give someone who is entering the PR industry any tips to aid in their success. She said:

I think one of the most important things is to know your industry.  If you are on the journalism side of the business make those contact.  Know the reporters at the TV and paper.  If you are on the event side know your vendors.  Networking is the key to success.

 I found this interview extremely insightful and helpful. I will take a lot of what I learned from Mrs. Blakley with me into the “real world” and while I job hunt in order to pick out the career that would be best. I have been considering event planning for the past month, and this interview helped confirm that it is for sure something I would enjoy doing.

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